On the Metaphysical Problem of Annihilation-ism

A thing (meaning, an object or even, in some instances, an abstract concept which is agreed upon universally and apprehended by the senses, like “hard”, “smooth”, and so on) can only effect an occurrence (change, event, etc.) according to its natural abilities.  It is not able to act against what it is able to do, by definition:  it does what it does and can do no more.  Beyond that, any effecting of anything else is not possible.  The end of anything is its ability to do whatever it can do.  Beyond its ability lay nothing else.  Anything beyond ability is an external force, and if a thing is moved by an external force beyond its ability, then the thing is THAT external force, and is not itself at all.  This of course is contradictory.  It is impossible to speak of two separate things:  if the first thing IS the second thing, then there is only the ONE thing, which is the first thing, and so on and so on.  Thus, if the end of a thing is not its OWN ability to do what it can do, then it is not itself, and thus, it is impossible to speak of it actually existing at all.  To do so constitutes an impossible contradiction (which, incidentally, is why God controlling all things and, specifically, predestining man, is metaphysically irrational and impossible, and cannot be true: if man is not himself, then he is the power which compels him; he is an extension of God, and does not exist).  For a thing to exist in the metaphysical sense, it must be the function of its own ability.  If it is the function of another’s ability, then it does not exist as itself.

For example, black can only become white if the change in color is a function of the object which IS colored…that is, the color is not the root object in question, but the thing which is of the color black, and when we speak of black becoming white what we mean is that the object that is colored black becomes colored white. The constant is the colored object.  We speak of that object changing color; we do not mean that black itself, changes to white, because this, of course, is impossible.  (E.g. a black felt hat left in a car all summer long becomes white in color because the dye in the fabric undergoes fading.  The constant then, is the hat, not the color…the hat itself does not change, but the color does, as a function of the constant thing: the hat).  You see, black itself cannot decide to become white because the end of the color black, as a object concept, is its ability; and its ability is simple:  to be black.  It cannot BE white because then, it would no longer BE black, thus could no longer BE at all.  So its not possible, we are saying, for it to still be ITSELF, and yet, be white.  Black is as far as its ability will take it.  To say that it can be white means we say that black can be both black and white simultaneously, which of course, is impossible.

If the color black could decide to be white, and thus be white, then what we admit is that we are not talking about the real conceptualization of the color black at all.  Black would not be black, but it would really be a certain innate something else and THAT is the constant thing which can be both in a state of being black, or in a state of being white.  Thus black would REALLY exist as something that possessed a nature that was utterly separate from black, the color.  For the object in question to be BLACK (that is the end truth of itself is the ability to be BLACK), it can exist as nothing beyond the state of the color black.  It is impossible for it to be white because, again, that would constitute a contradiction to itself, and thus, it could not exist at all.

This same concept can also be applied to man’s “ability”.  Man’s ability is the metaphysical term I use for “spirit” or “soul”.  It is the very beginning of man.  It is what makes his existence possible, metaphysically.  Man’s ability is thus defined as:  whatever man is able to do is a function of his innate ability.  There is nothing beyond man but his ability to do whatever he does.  If there is something that exists beyond man’s ability, then man is not man, he is merely a function of the external force which usurps his ability.  Thus, ability becomes an illusion, and so does man.  Without true, unmolested ability, with absolutely nothing beyond THAT, man is a lie and does not exist.  I understand there is much more to be said here, and that by speaking of “ability” like this, in this metaphysical sense, I may be getting ahead of where I should be on the blog, but it is what it is.  I do not think it is a difficult concept to grasp, though I do realize that it can be argued, and I will post more on the subject of “ability” later.  Needless to say, I firmly believe the Calvinist doctrine of “inability” to be metaphysically contradictory and thus, must be false.  That is my premise.

At any rate, the core of man’s existence–his essence–is the innate ability to do any and everything he does.  Now, if we believe that there is such a thing as annihilation-ism (the concept whereby man and his soul/spirit/ability are destroyed from existence…meaning, they are functionally un-created), what we are saying is that man’s ability is able to become UNable.  Ability can BECOME inability.  Naturally, I argue that this is impossible for the same reason that black cannot also be white.  If man’s root is his ability, then man stops with that ABILITY.  Thus, it is impossible for man to move to a state of inability, which is what annihilation-ism is saying.  Man’s ability cannot decide to become unable because the operative nature at the most fundamental level of ability is to be ABLE.  For ability to become inability the fundamental nature of man must be something beyond ability by which it can be unable.  There MUST be a constant thing, which is changed.  If that constant thing is, in fact, ability, then by definition, there can be NO such thing as inability, which means that man cannot cease to exist in the “able” sense, but his ability (which I say is the spirit, or soul) MUST be in fact, eternal.  It cannot be annihilated.  IF ability is in fact the end, or soul, of man, then there is nothing beyond that, and ability cannot become unable because if we say that it can, what we are saying is that ability can be both able and unable at the SAME time.  Which is, of course, literally and metaphysically impossible.

Everything man does, I argue, he does via his ability.  There is nothing beyond that.  Ability must be eternal because by definition, it cannot be unable.  Man’s soul was created to perpetually exist. Annihilation-ism implies that somehow, by his ability, man can decide to un-create himself, which is, in fact, a huge logical fallacy.  Ability/created cannot also = inability/uncreated at the same time.

Now, I understand the natural objection to my argument.  The natural objection says that it is not man doing the un-creating, it is God.  God is annihilating man, not himself.  Here is my counter argument:

The purpose of man is to exist according to his ability.  The purpose of man cannot be changed by man because man’s purpose is found in God (as opposed to the rest of creation’s purpose, which is found in itself, to provide an environment for man’s ability to be effectuated and realized), which is, again,to be himself, by pursuing God–which constitutes utter freedom of self.  God is utter freedom by definition; the more like God, the more man is free to be himself.  God, then, does NOT create man that he may be uncreated according to an act of his ability (that is, man’s ability).  Thus, the same metaphysical principle discussed in detail above still applies.  God does not respond to a choice man makes as a function of his ability by rendering man unable, for what that would naturally imply is that man is, in fact, using his ability to compel an outcome whereby that ability becomes inability.  A = B = C.  Man’s ability = reject God = man is annihilated is the same as saying man’s ability = man’s inability.  God can no more act in a metaphysically impossible way than the rest of all of the heavens and creation, for doing so constitutes that He is in fact a creator of the redundant and irrelevant, and is thus a hypocrite, and CANNOT be, in fact, God.  To say that man can provoke annihilation of his ability by his own ability is a logical and metaphysical fallacy.  It is clear then, that God will not oblige annihilation-ism in order that He may not be seen as the the creator of the metaphysically nonsensical.  If God is truly the author of man’s ability, then ability is the end and beginning of man, and as such, inability cannot be ever effected.  In short, God created man’s soul to be eternal, regardless of whatever choices man makes as a product of his ability.

The conclusion of all of this is, again, that man exists to be eternal not to be uncreated.  I would caution all of us who name the name of Christ to be careful that, in the interest of showing compassion and love to others, which I feel is the motivation behind the concept of annihilation-ism (at least in some), that we do not somehow minimize the urgent need of Christ for the world.  To preach annihilation-ism what we are saying is that there is no judgment; for regardless of when that annihilation comes, the result is nothing, and by definition, the punishment then for sin is nothing at all.  If God does not reject (punish, enact a consequence, etc., etc.) forever, then the fact is that ultimately there is no consequence for sin, which is contradictory to the faith.  If man can be uncreated, then all that man does, including sin, is forgiven without Christ, which, again, is impossible, by the very definition of what it means for a Christ to exist.   I don’t mind re-evaluating the concept of hell, but we must be careful about proclaiming that it does not exist at all, or that the judgment of God is a false concept, which is exactly what we do when we proclaim annihilation-ism.  By definition, if man becomes nothing, then there is NO judgment.  The judgment of man cannot be nothing, because that constitutes irrational contradiction.  Non-existence is not a consequence of anything; again, it is simply nothing.

Correction: a “consequence” of nothing-ness is NOT forgiveness. For if man does not exist, then by definition, there is nothing there to forgive. And, also, nothing to condemn. The point being that man’s soul’s purpose is God, and will always be God (for there was PURPOSE in man’s creation), and therefore, the soul does not pass away unless God passes away. If God uncreates a person, then He is a hypocrite. He created man’s ability to be able, not to be un-able.

Addendum: (response to question from another poster on another blog; and clarification)

My posit is that if a soul exists, then it is that by which men are able, meaning the soul is ABILITY.

I do not have a problem looking at ability as actually existing (I guess in the “platonic sense”, as Nick pointed out)…I do not view it as merely an abstract by product of the biological. This is a very difficult issue for either side to argue. What I’m saying is that merely pointing out that ability needs a body (the biological, in this case…meaning, this life), one cannot automatically declare that the idea that ability isn’t real, nor is it metaphysically feasible. If you line up a bunch of guys in a row, you can’t tell which is the race car driver. You need to put them in a car to see that. Merely taking away the the car isn’t proof that the ability to drive doesn’t exist, and is merely a “hole”, that is, a product of the tangible. It just shows that without the car, it cannot be manifested. That isn’t a perfect analogy I realize, but I do think that it is just as large a stretch to declare that just because you can’t see ability without the body, then it MUST be merely a function of the body…that is, the assumption is that the body comes first in the process.

So, I argue that the ability of the person to race cars is REAL. And what I’m saying is that the end of man is the capital A “ability”, which is equally as real, but is broader because it encompasses ALL that man can do, which is what defines Man as Man. It is the end of man, and the beginning, and I would call that ability “soul”. And what I argue is that if that is truly the root of man, meaning, his functional core, then it is the constant. Take away everything else, and you are left with man’s ABILITY. And if that is all there is…if that is the IS of, man, then there can be no such thing as INABILITY. So, ability is simply the word…like, for example, God you would call TRUTH, but the fact is that TRUTH implies FALSE. But when we say God’s TRUTH, what we mean is just God. God’s truth, without “false” is really just God Himself. And when I say man’s ability, I mean simply “man”. So if man = ability (which is my assumption here),then man MUST be eternal because, again, ability cannot be UNable. Because if we say that it is, then we say that man can be both ABLE and UNABLE at the same time, which is impossible. Just like black cannot BE white because ITSELF is BLACK. Black is the end of black…so to say black can become white, we say that black can BE white at the same time. Impossible. If something is going to change color, then the constant, the ITSELF, has to be separate from the color. A hat can be both green or blue, but its still a hat. The hat cannot be a frog at the same time it’s a hat.

The root thing is the thing in question; is the constant (if the “hole” were the constant, then yes, the “hole” would be a real thing, because there would be nothing else beyond “hole”)…so, yes, a body can be alive and then dead but the soul cannot because the soul cannot be able and unable at the same time.

Finally, to use the Bible for a change, Jesus said that we should fear the One who can destroy both body and soul, not just those who can kill the body. To me, the Christian premise is that body and soul are separate. And if that is so, I argue that the soul is immortal.

2 thoughts on “On the Metaphysical Problem of Annihilation-ism

  1. I love your focus on man’s”ability”. We are losing that focus in so many areas of society from the push for collectivism to Calvinism which is a form of the same.

    So many want to make it a crime or a sin to be “able”. Reminds me of my Aunt who always told us: God gave you a good brain, now use it!!!

  2. And you inherited YOUR good brain from your Aunt! (Among others, I’m sure.)

    Well…yes, this really forms the basis for my understanding of how anything, but particularly man, can relate to God. If man has no ability, then I really don’t see how he can exist. And if man has ability, I believe that it must be THE thing that defines his existence. Otherwise, he is really just compelled by some external force. And if that is the case, then there really isn’t “man” at all.

    It’s not a fist-shaking at the Calvinist doctrine of inability (well…I mean, it is, a little, because they soooo deserve to have fists shaken at their doctrine) so much as it is merely a metaphysical fact that I’m pointing out, I feel.that God will never create something to do something He can do better Himself. And given that He is God, that would include, well, everything!. So creation cannot exist to be controlled by God. Certainly I’m not doubting the idea that God can intervene in His creation to compel an outcome; I’m just saying that it seems clear to me that this cannot come about as a result of God POSSESSING the created thing. Remember, anything that God possesses becomes God (there is no “part” of God because it impossible that something can only be “partly perfect”). So created thing cannot BE God, and thus, we must accept that the “how” of God moving upon His creation does not entail BECOMING creation–which is an impossible metaphysical contradiction.

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